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Maryland DREAM Act Receives DNC Attention

September 7, 2012

BALTIMORE - Maryland's DREAM Act received a few shout-outs at the Democratic National Convention. The state law is being challenged on the ballot in November under Question 4. It allows undocumented immigrant children to attend college at in-state tuition rates under certain conditions. It's similar to the federal DREAM Act sitting before Congress. That proposal also garnered its share of convention attention, with Vice President Joe Biden and actress Eva Longoria, among others, highlighting it Thursday night.

Local leader Jaime Contreras of the Service Employees' International Union 32BJ says the attention adds momentum.

"O'Malley has talked about this at the Democratic National Convention. Clinton has talked about the DREAM Act. So did Julian Castro. It's the right thing to do. We should do it at the federal level. But unfortunately, Congress has failed to act on this."

A DREAMer from Texas, 27-year old Benita Veliz, also spoke at the DNC, the first time ever that an undocumented immigrant has been on the podium at a party convention.

Contreras says every time the topic appears, it's discussed in terms of fairness and common sense.

"They live here. They're part of the community. They're part of our schools. They go to school with my kids. Why would they be treated differently when they graduate high school than every other kid? These kids are our future engineers, scientists, teachers."

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is another high-profile name advocating for the state law to stay on the books.

The campaign to defend the Maryland DREAM Act is called "Educating Maryland Kids." Supporters include education, civil rights, faith-based and labor groups.

Opponents claim the bill is too expensive for taxpayers, especially when the economy is still fragile.

Maryland's Question 4 is at www.elections.state.md.us.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD